Victoria de los Ángeles sings “Una voce poco fa” (The Barber of Seville)

Spanish operatic lyric coloratura soprano Victoria de los Ángeles sings “Una voce poco fa” (English: A voice a little while ago) of Gioachino Rossini’s opera buffa in two acts, “Il barbiere di Siviglia” (The Barber of Seville). From the BBC Telecast in 1962.

Special thanks to Gladys Abulafia Alhanati who made me discover that great performance.

Victoria de los Ángeles

Victoria de los Ángeles (1 November 1923 – 15 January 2005) was a Spanish operatic lyric coloratura soprano and recitalist whose career began after the Second World War and reached its height in the years from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s.

She started her opera career in 1941, while still a student. She won first prize in the Geneva International Music Competition in 1947. Geneva International Music Competition is a music competitions held in Geneva, Switzerland. It was founded in 1939 and this makes it the first international competition. It is held in the Geneva Conservatory for a wide variety of instruments, voice, conducting, and chamber music.

Victoria de los Ángeles sings "Una voce poco fa"
Victoria de los Ángeles (1 November 1923 – 15 January 2005)

In 1949, she made her first appearance in the Paris Opéra as Marguerite (Faust, a grand opera in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré’s play Faust et Marguerite). The following year, she made her debut in Salzburg and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Mimì, and in the United States with a recital at Carnegie Hall. In March 1951, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in New York as Marguérite, and she went on to sing with the company for ten years. In 1952, she became an instant favourite in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Colón as the title role in Madama Butterfly. She returned to Buenos Aires many times until 1979. She sang at La Scala in Milan from 1950 to 1956 and, in 1957, she sang at the Vienna State Opera.

After making her debut at the Bayreuth Festival as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser in 1961, she devoted herself principally to a concert career. However, for the next twenty years, she continued to make occasional appearances in one of her favourite operatic roles, Bizet’s Carmen. She was among the first Spanish-born operatic singers to record the complete opera, having done so in 1958 in a recording conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, using the recitatives added by Ernest Guiraud after Bizet’s death. Though Carmen lay comfortably in her range, she nevertheless sang major soprano roles, best known of which were Donna Anna, Manon, Nedda, Desdemona, Cio-Cio-San, Mimi, Violetta and Mélisande.

James Hinton, Jr. praised the curious means she used to achieve her characterisation of Rosina in the 1954 Met’s The Barber of Seville:

…she — almost literally – does nothing at all that is in the conventional sense ‘effective’. She is rapidly becoming one of those great rarities… a personality who makes everyone believe in her characterizations. Even in that there is a flaw, for she really offers no characterization. The personality is always the same… Yet the audience believes… that this is the way whichever character she happens to be dressed as must have been…”

De los Ángeles performed regularly in song recitals with pianists Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons, occasionally appearing with other eminent singers, such as Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Her recitals of Spanish songs with the pianist Alicia de Larrocha were also legendary. She sang at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, aged 68.

She made many widely acclaimed recordings, including those of La vida breve, La bohème, Pagliacci, and Madama Butterfly. The last three paired her with the outstanding tenor Jussi Björling. She was particularly appreciative of Björling’s unique talent. In de los Ángeles’ biography by Peter Roberts, de los Ángeles noted that “in despite of technical developments, none of the Jussi Björling recordings give you the true sound of his voice. It was a far, far more beautiful voice than you can hear on the recordings he left”.

She was ranked number 3, after Maria Callas and Dame Joan Sutherland, in the BBC Music Magazine ‘s List of The Top Twenty Sopranos of All Time (2007).

Una voce poco fa Lyrics

Una voce poco fa (A voice a little while ago), Rosina’s aria from Il barbiere di Siviglia:

Una voce poco fa

Una voce poco fa
qui nel cor mi risuonò;
il mio cor ferito è già,
e Lindor fu che il piagò.

Sì, Lindoro mio sarà;
lo giurai, la vincerò. (bis)

Il tutor ricuserà,
io l’ingegno aguzzerò.
Alla fin s’accheterà
e contenta io resterò.

Sì, Lindoro mio sarà;
lo giurai, la vincerò.
Sì, Lindoro mio sarà;
lo giurai, sì.

~ ~ ~

Io sono docile, son rispettosa,
sono obbediente, dolce, amorosa;
mi lascio reggere, mi lascio reggere,
mi fo guidar, mi fo guidar.

Ma,
ma se mi toccano
dov’è il mio debole
sarò una vipera, sarò
e cento trappole
prima di cedere
farò giocar, giocar.

E cento trappole
prima di cedere
farò giocar, farò giocar. (bis)

(Si ripete da: Io sono docile…)

A voice has just

A voice has just
echoed here into my heart
my heart is already wounded
and it was Lindoro who shot.

Yes, Lindoro will be mine
I’ve swore it, I’ll win. (bis)

The tutor will refuse,
I’ll sharpen my mind
finally he’ll accept,
and happy I’ll rest.

Yes, Lindoro will be mine
I’ve swore it, I’ll win.
Yes, Lindoro will be mine
I’ve swore it, yes.

~ ~ ~

I’m gentle, respectful
I’m obedient, sweet, loving
I let be ruled, I let be ruled,
I let be guided, I let be guided.

But,
but if they touch
where my weak spot is
I’ll be a viper
and a hundred traps
before giving up
I’ll make them fall.

And a hundred traps
before giving up
I’ll make them fall. (bis)

A voice a while back (Version #2)

A voice a while back
echoes here in my heart;
already my heart has been pierced
and Lindoro inflicted the wound.

Yes, Lindoro shall be mine;
I swear it, I will win. (bis)

My guardian will refuse me;
I shall sharpen all my wits.
In the end he will be calmed
and I shall rest content…

Yes, Lindoro shall be mine;
I swear it, I will win.
Yes, Lindoro shall be mine;
I swear it, yes.

~ ~ ~

I am docile, I’m respectful,
I’m obedient, gentle, loving;
I let myself be ruled, I let myself be ruled,
I let myself be guided, I let myself be guided.

But,
but if they touch me
on my weak spot,
I’ll be a viper
and a hundred tricks
I’ll play before I yield.

And a hundred tricks
I’ll play before I yield.

(it repeats from: I am docile…)

Sources

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